Why You Should Add Vinegar to Your Laundry Load

Adding vinegar to your laundry load can have many benefits for your clothes, washing machine, and wallet. Vinegar is an inexpensive yet powerful cleaning agent that can help tackle tough stains, soften fabrics, and make detergents work even better. Read on to learn why you should be adding a splash of vinegar to every load of laundry.

Removes Odors and Brightens Whites

One of the best reasons to add vinegar to your laundry is to remove odors and brighten whites. The acidic properties of vinegar help break down stubborn smells lingering in fabrics. Vinegar cuts through sweat, smoke, and mildew odors that can build up in clothes over time.

For whites, vinegar acts as a natural bleaching agent. The acetic acid reacts with the detergent to lift stains and whiten fabrics. Add 1/2 cup of vinegar to your bleach dispenser or detergent compartment for fresher smelling, brighter clothes. The boost of cleaning power helps bring new life to dull and dingy laundry.

Softens Clothes Without Fabric Softener

Skip the fabric softener and use vinegar to soften clothes instead. The acetic acid in vinegar alters the pH balance of the wash water, which helps remove detergent residue from fabric fibers. This prevents stiffness and roughness so clothes feel softer.

Vinegar also prevents static cling by neutralizing the electric charge in fabrics that causes them to stick together. Simply add 1/2 cup vinegar during the rinse cycle and your laundry will come out feeling smoother and softer without leaving a perfume-y scent behind.

Cleans the Washing Machine Itself

Over time gunk, grime, soap scum, and mineral deposits from hard water can build up inside your washing machine. This affects the performance and lifespan of the appliance.

Pouring vinegar in the detergent drawer and running a hot cycle monthly keeps the inside of your machine clean. The vinegar dissolves residue, kills bacteria and mold growth, and deodorizes. Your washer will function better when it’s not clogged with dirt and deposits.

Extends Life of Clothes

Adding vinegar to your laundry actually extends the life of clothes. How? Vinegar helps set the dye in fabrics so colors stay vibrant wash after wash. The mild acidity also prevents fading and helps maintain the structural integrity of fabric fibers.

Vinegar’s deodorizing properties prevent smells from setting into clothing permanently. And because it softens fabrics, vinegar helps prevent pilling and roughness that wears clothes out prematurely. Your favorite pieces will look great and last longer.

Improves Detergent Performance

Pour some vinegar into the detergent compartment to boost the cleaning power of the laundry soap. Vinegar helps lower the pH of the wash water so detergents can work more effectively at removing dirt, oils, and grime from clothing.

The combination of vinegar and detergent together in the wash breaks down stains better than detergent alone. For set-in stains, soak or pretreat clothes with a vinegar solution before washing for optimal results.

Natural Fabric Softener Alternative

Commercial fabric softeners coat fabrics with perfumes, chemicals, and synthetic fragrances that can cause skin irritation or allergic reactions. Vinegar softens naturally without these harsh additives.

Since vinegar is non-toxic, hypoallergenic, and made from fermenting plants, it’s safe to use on baby clothes, athletic gear, cloth diapers, towels, and other laundry without worry. Your clean laundry will smell fresh and feel soft without toxins.

Environmentally Friendly Option

Vinegar is a plant-based, biodegradable product that’s safer for the environment than many commercial cleaning products. Using vinegar in lieu of harsh bleach, stain removers, and fabric softeners reduces the amount of toxic chemicals released into our water systems from washing laundry.

It can also partially replace detergent, allowing you to use less soap overall. Vinegar is readily biodegradable, so it doesn’t persist or accumulate in ecosystems like synthetic chemicals. Make your laundry routine greener with vinegar.

Natural Whitener Alternative

Bleach is very effective at whitening and disinfecting laundry, but it’s also toxic and corrosive. Fumes from chlorine bleach can cause breathing problems and skin irritation. Vinegar naturally whitens fabrics and sanitizes without the harsh effects of bleach.

Since vinegar is non-toxic, you don’t have to worry about your family’s health when using it. Vinegar is safe enough to use on baby clothes, yet powerful enough to brighten dingy socks and shirts. For an eco-friendly whitener, swap bleach for vinegar instead.

Cost Effective Multi-Purpose Cleaner

Vinegar is one of the most cost effective, multi-purpose cleaners available. Keeping a gallon or two of vinegar on hand lets you tackle laundry and a myriad of other household cleaning tasks.

Use vinegar to descale the coffee maker, clean floors, scrub tile, polish chrome, disinfect countertops, wash windows, and much more. Vinegar replaces the need for expensive specialty cleaners while doing the job just as well, if not better. Add it to laundry for fresher, cleaner clothes on the cheap.

Removes Mildew Smells

That unpleasant mildew smell coming from damp clothes or towels is no match for vinegar. The acidic vinegar neutralizes the musty odor caused by mildew and mold.

Soaking laundry in vinegar prior to washing eliminates odor rather than just masking it like some detergents. For clothes and towels prone to mildew, add 1 cup vinegar to each laundry load to banish that smell for good.

Keeps Colors from Bleeding

Running a red sock in with your whites turns everything a shade of pink. Vinegar helps set dyes to prevent colors from bleeding into each other in the wash.

Add 1/2 cup vinegar to the rinse cycle whenever washing darks or brightly colored items. Vinegar seals the dyes so the colors stay locked in the fabrics where they belong. Your reds will remain red and your whites will stay white.

Gets Rid of Pet Hair

Between your dog or cat lounging on the couch or the bed, pet hair can get absolutely everywhere – including all over your clothes and linens. Vinegar breaks down pet fur so it rinses away easier in the wash.

Add 1 cup vinegar to a lint roller and roll it over fabrics to pick up pet hair. Soak pet bedding in a vinegar solution before washing to dissolve stubborn fur. Vinegar prevents you from having to lint roll your clothes multiple times.

Removes Sweat Stains and Odors

Workout clothes are prone to sweat stains and odors no matter how many times you wash them. The next time your gym shirts have embarrassing sweat stains:

  • Soak clothing in a mixture of 1 part vinegar to 3 parts cold water.
  • Let soak 30 minutes, then wash normally with detergent.

The vinegar solution removes the sweat stench and discoloration better than detergent alone. Vinegar kills the bacteria that causes odors so clothes stay fresh.

Deep Cleans Cloth Diapers

Cloth diapers need to be seriously scrubbed and sanitized to come completely clean. Vinegar naturally disinfects the diapers while removing stains and odors.

Add 1/2 cup vinegar to the prewash cycle followed by regular detergent in the main wash. Repeat weekly for smell-free diapers. Vinegar also helps repel the urine and ammonia that causes diaper rash on baby’s bottom.

Removes Salad Dressing Stains

Oil and vinegar salad dressings can leave stubborn stains on clothing that normal detergent struggles to remove. Thankfully, you can fight oil with vinegar in the laundry too.

Pretreat salad dressing spots with full strength vinegar before washing. The vinegar cuts through and lifts out the oil-based stains. Avoid high heat when washing vinegar-treated clothes to prevent setting the oil stain permanently.

Softens Hard Water Effects

Washing clothes in hard water leaves mineral residue that causes dinginess, stiffness, and limescale buildup in machines. The minerals bond to dirt which becomes harder to remove. Vinegar softens hard water so clothes rinse cleaner.

Add 1-2 cups vinegar to the wash cycle anytime you launder clothes in hard water. Vinegar prevents soap scum from forming so clothes avoid looking dingy or feeling crunchy after washing.

Keeps Towels Soft and Fluffy

Nothing’s worse than a scratchy bath towel. Vinegar rinses all the excess soap and minerals out of terry cloth so towels stay ultra soft, fluffy, and comfortable against skin.

Add 1/2 cup vinegar during the rinse cycle whenever laundering towels. It also helps remove musty, mildew smells towels can develop over time after getting wet. Who doesn’t love a warm, just-dried, fluffy towel fresh from the dryer?

Disinfects Fabrics

White vinegar is a natural disinfectant. The acetic acid in vinegar kills 99% of bacteria and germs on fabric when used properly. This makes it great for sanitizing clothes, towels, and other laundry.

Add 1/2 cup vinegar during the wash cycle and soak laundry for 30-60 minutes before washing. Vinegar disinfects without irritants or residues left behind. It’s gentler on fabrics than chlorine bleach yet still kills pathogens and microbes.

Restores Dingy Socks

White socks tend to look dingy very quickly after washing. Thankfully, vinegar can help restore their brightness again. The mild acidity strips away residues that bond to the fibers leaving socks looking like new.

Add 1 cup vinegar to the rinse cycle whenever you wash white socks to return them to their original whiteness. Works great on underwear and shirts too. Skip the bleach and use vinegar instead for brighter laundry.

Protects Delicates From Fading

Some detergents are too harsh for delicates and silks, causing fabrics to fade, stretch out, and appear worn faster. Vinegar neutralizes detergents so they clean gently without dulling colors or damaging fibers.

Fill your detergent dispenser with 1/2 as much detergent as normal and top with 1/2 cup vinegar. Alternatively, pretreat stains on delicate items with a vinegar solution first before washing. The vinegar protects while still getting them clean.

Helps Fight Laundry Stains

Vinegar can help tackle many tough laundry stains when used as a pretreatment. Here are some of the stains vinegar can help conquer:

  • Grass stains – soak in vinegar water before washing
  • Tomato stains – rub with vinegar then rinse
  • Mustard stains – sponge with vinegar water mix
  • Coffee/tea stains – pretreat with vinegar
  • Wine stains – saturate with vinegar, then wash
  • Armpit stains – soak in vinegar water solution
  • Makeup stains – rub with vinegar before washing
  • Blood stains – soak in cool vinegar water
  • Ink/marker stains – dab with vinegar then rinse off
  • Sweat stains – saturate stain with vinegar
  • Rust stains – soak item in vinegar before washing
  • Grease stains – pretreat with vinegar beforehand

The acidic vinegar helps break down and lift many household stains so they wash out in the laundry process. Keep a spray bottle of vinegar handy for pretreating laundry stains before they set and become permanent.

Freshens Up Stored Clothes

When clothes sit folded in drawers or on hangers for a long time, they can start to smell stale even when clean. A vinegar soak refreshes clothes that have been stored to bring back the just-washed scent.

Place stored clothes in a garment bag or plastic bin and pour in 1 cup vinegar. Seal and let soak 1 hour, rotate and shake items halfway through. Remove and hang or dry as normal. Vinegar steam penetrates fabrics to remove odors.

Extends Life of Athletic Shoes

Funky odors, grime, mold, and mildew can quickly damage athletic shoes. A vinegar soak deep cleans your sneakers inside and out. The vinegar sanitizes and deodorizes to make shoes smell fresh again.

Combine 2 cups vinegar and 2 gallons of water in a bucket. Remove shoelaces and soak shoes 1 hour. Scrub with a brush, rinse clean and dry fully. Vinegar prevents deterioration and extends the usable life of pricey athletic shoes.

Keeps Lint and Pet Hair From Sticking

Lint and pet fur can cling to clothes in the dryer or after washing. Vinegar’s antistatic properties help prevent lint, hair and fuzz from sticking to fabrics.

Add 1/2 cup vinegar to the washer rinse cycle or dryer sheet compartment. Vinegar prevents static so lint and pet hair rinse or fluff away without clinging to clothes. Say goodbye to sticky lint rollers and tediously picking hairs by hand!

Shrinks Clothes That Are Too Big

Accidentally washed your favorite wool sweater on hot and now it’s stretched out? Shrink it back down to size with vinegar. The acetic acid tightens loose, baggy clothing.

Soak the stretched out item in 1 cup vinegar diluted in 2 gallons warm water for 15-20 minutes. Gently squeeze out excess then lay flat to air dry to shrink back down. Works great on wool, cotton, or linen.

Fights Laundry Wrinkles

Nobody likes pulling wrinkled clothes out of the dryer. Thankfully, a few splashes of vinegar helps soften fabrics so they lay flat with minimal wrinkling.

Add 2 tablespoons of vinegar in the washer rinse cycle or the dryer with a damp cloth. Vinegar’s antistatic properties help prevent wrinkles by smoothing fibers. Toss clothes in the dryer 10 minutes after drying with a vinegar-dampened cloth to release wrinkles.

Removes Yellow Armpit Stains

Yellow pit stains ruin the look of shirts and blouses. Rubbing with vinegar before washing removes this stubborn discoloration caused by sweat and deodorant.

Work vinegar into stained underarm areas and let sit 30 minutes before laundering. The acids in vinegar lift and dissolve the yellowing without damaging or discoloring the fabric. Avoid bleach – go with vinegar for pit stains instead.

Keeps Laundry Mold/Mildew Free

Leaving damp laundry sitting for hours or days before drying can cause mold and mildew growth. Vinegar prevents this pesky problem that ruins clothes.

Add 1 cup of vinegar to the final rinse when washing damp items prone to mildew like towels, blankets, and athletic gear. Vinegar inhibits mold spores from forming so laundry stays fresh.

Removes Pilling From Fabrics

Pills or bobbles that form on the surface of clothes are annoying. The mild acid in vinegar dissolves the pilling while also softening fabrics.

Soak pilly clothes in 1 part vinegar diluted in 4 parts water for 5 minutes before washing. For heavy pilling, rub vinegar directly on the bobbles before soaking to help dissolve them. Skip the fabric shavers and reach for the vinegar instead.

Keeps Underwear and Socks White

No one wants dingy underwear or gray socks. Thankfully, vinegar whitens and brightens delicates better than chlorine bleach without causing wear or tears.

Add 1/2 cup vinegar to the rinse cycle when laundering whites to avoid yellowing and graying. Vinegar helps underwear and socks stay bright, white, and stain-free in a gentle, eco-friendly way.

Removes Buildup on Cloth Diapers

Detergent and mineral deposits can accumulate on cloth diapers decreasing their absorbency. Vinegar removes this buildup so diapers work like new again.

Fill your washer with hot water, add 1-2 cups vinegar, and soak diapers 2 hours. Run a rinse cycle. Repeat monthly for clean, mineral-free diapers. Vinegar also helps strip away stains and odor.

Extends Life of Bath Towels

Vinegar removes the soap scum, hard water deposits, and mildew that causes towels to wear out prematurely. Using vinegar keeps them softer and fluffier much longer.

Add 1/2 cup vinegar to the rinse cycle when washing towels. You’ll enjoy super absorbent, luxurious towels for years to come. Vinegar protects the fibers and allows towels to last longer.

Removes Chlorine Smell from Swimsuits

The chlorine smell left behind in swimsuits from the pool is notoriously difficult to remove. Thankfully, vinegar removes the harsh chlorine odor after swimming and keeps suits fresh.

After swimming, soak chlorine smelly suits in a solution of 1 cup vinegar diluted in 2 gallons of water for 15 minutes before washing normally with detergent. Vinegar neutralizes and removes the chemical smell better than detergent alone.

Keeps Jeans Darker Longer

Jeans look best when they are deep, dark denim not light and faded. Adding vinegar to the wash helps preserve the rich indigo color so jeans maintain their vibrancy.

Use vinegar in place of fabric softener in the rinse cycle to prevent fading. The vinegar seals the dyes in the cotton fabrics. Avoid using vinegar with bleach, which fades jeans faster.

Softens and Freshens Workout Gear

The right dose of vinegar softens workout gear while removing odors too. This helps yoga pants, athletic shirts, and gym socks stay fresher between wears.

Soak smelly exercise clothes in a solution of 1 part vinegar diluted in 4 parts water for 30 minutes before washing. Vinegar kills odor and softens fabrics so athleisure gear feels great against your skin during workouts.

Cleans and Whitens Shoes

Vinegar naturally whitens and brightens white sneakers or shoes that have gotten dingy over time. The mild acid lifts stains while disinfecting.

Dip a toothbrush in vinegar and gently scrub stained or dirty areas. Stuff shoes with paper towels and spray or sprinkle vinegar inside. Allow shoes to dry completely to avoid odor.

Removes Laundry Residue Buildup

Residue from fabric softeners, dryer sheets, and detergents leaves a coating on clothes that dulls colors and textures over time. Vinegar removes this buildup.

Once per month, fill your machine with